SXSW Day 1 – Opening Day

by Troy Grosfield
March 12th, 2011

It’s a beautiful day in Austin, Texas.  Home of the SXSW conference.  Walking around seeing all the latest and greatest technology from booths is very interesting.  One being Microsoft.  It was the first time I’ve really been hands on with a Windows 7 phone.  It really resembles a magazine which is a very different experience than most other smart phones.  The touch sensitivity was right on point and navigation was a breeze.  Good work Microsoft.

SxSW in Downtown Austin

SXSW in Downtown Austin

Social media everywhere. Everyone using and referencing Twitter, Facebook, etc and every event has a hashtag.

SXSW Atmosphere

The atmosphere here is awesome.  All the people are way chill and everyone seems to be having a great time.  There are many tents setup along the side of the roads to attract visitors to sample their new products.  One tent we stopped by was Sobe.  They were giving out free drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic).

Session: How Not to Design Like a Developer

The first session of the day. The presenter talked a lot about open source design work and how it’s so hard to find designers who contribute work to open source projects. She’s a designer who did a lot of free lance work and found her passion doing open source design work.

Developer documentation isn’t nearly as important as designers documentation.  A designer doesn’t give the psd files saying I wonder who’s going to pick these up later and improve them.

The first impression of a site isn’t usually the programming behind the site, but more of the design look and feel of the site.

The title of this session was a little deceiving.  The presenter talked about about her career path and about open design.  She didn’t get into discussions about design work itself.

Book Reading: HackingWork: Why Good Work Means Breaking the Rules

Hacking Work

Hacking Work

I was a little unsure what exactly a “book reading” was going to entail.  Turns out it’s a the author talking about their book.

The author talks about breaking company rules to prove a point for the benefit of the company.  He gives a few examples of employee’s budgets being cut which caused disgruntled customers.  So the employees went out and took video of the disgruntled customers and put the videos on youtube.  It causes a large outcry against the company which in turn got the employees budget approved.

He also talks about companies that turn off social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.  So, the employees in turn go out beyond the firewalls to get their updates and interact with their audience instead of the company trying to leverage social networks for their benefit.

Book Reading: The Personal MBA: Mastering Productivity, Happiness, and Wealth

The author, Josh Kaufman, read from a script which felt like a dry at times.  However, I think the title of the book reading alone is what attracted such a large crowed.  All the seats were taken so the people that flooded in late just sat on the floor.

He brings up some good points in the book.  For one, it doesn’t matter how smart you are, if there is no market for the product you’re trying to sell then your company will never get off the ground no matter how smart you are.  Make sure what you’re creating provides values or solves a problem in some way.

Counter factual simulation.  An interesting concept he talks about that makes you analyze what it would take to achieve your end goal.  He had a goal to leave his job for his perspective company by his birthday.  After analyzing the path to how many clients he would need to have, have much revenue he would need to be generating he realized that he could leave his job immediately.

Counter factual simulation is putting the pieces of the puzzle together to reach the end goal.  What needs to be done to achieve each milestone along the way?

He also mentions how an expensive grad school education isn’t necessary, but the skills you learn are. There are many ways to learn the same thing and a $300k education from Harvard isn’t always necessary.


The nightlife is awesome. All the bars are rented out by company’s who are looking to impress. Other companies open their corporate doors where meeting rooms become food rooms Most places you go have free food and drinks while supplies last. Lines to get in starts early and the lines are long, but worth the wait!

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